What's it about?
The concept for polishing optical elements with a process called VIBE is presented. Application to non uniformly sloped optics such as aspheric shapes is detailed. Initial results on spherical surfaces are presented. A few technical challenges to be overcome are outlined.
In the last 20 years the mantra of optics manufacturers has been BETTER, FASTER, CHEAPER. There have been a number of techniques that have been adopted in an effort to satisfy this. BETTER has lead to very effective, though not inexpensive, techniques such as ion milling, MRF, zonal polishing and other deterministic removal methods. These methods usually involve making a sample spot which is then accurately measured to determine the profile of material removal. The lens to be polished is also measured carefully. Using sophisticated software, the machine calculates how long the spot needs to be on every part of the lens to bring the lens surface into compliance. FASTER has been achieved with the development of high speed polishing polyurethane lap type systems. These systems polish the entire surface simultaneously and do so at a very rapid rate. Much to the chagrin of the US manufactures, CHEAPER has been usually achieved by moving off shore to areas where the cost of labor is much reduced. There is no class of machinery that does BETTER, FASTER, and CHEAPER simultaneously.